Let’s take a stroll down memory lane. About six years ago, I was sitting in a crowded auditorium at Vernon Hills High School, carefully listening to a passionate speech from the student body president at first year student orientation. I remember the advice he gave, and it all seemed like the standard clichés: don’t procrastinate, study for exams, practice academic honesty, make meaningful friendships, challenge yourself with your course work, cherish these four years etc. However, there was one piece of advice that was said more times than I can even express: “Get involved.” Now, that was not just something the student body president was saying. I heard it from everyone: teachers, parents, grandparents, upperclassmen, and my friends. Even though this advice seemed pretty obvious, it was easier said than done. “Getting involved” in high school activities is more nuanced than just joining any club you can, for I would say it is most interesting to join activities that cater to all your different interests.
When I came to high school, I knew that I wanted to be on the dance team. I had danced all throughout my childhood performing and participating in countless recitals, competitions, summer intensives, you name it. However, while I was quite comfortable dancing, I knew that it was imperative for me to try something new. During my sophomore year, I did a project on gender inequality in Peru, and it was this that inspired me to be one of the founders of VHHS’s first gender equality club. Nevertheless, this club and project was the very beginning, for I wanted to learn about how gender equality and Judaism intersect. During my senior year, I wanted to try something new, and with our world being flipped upside down by the pandemic, I wanted to find something where I can make an impact in a virtual sense. Therefore, I applied to be part of Moving Traditions’ Kol Koleinu Feminist Teen Fellowship, and it was there where I met people from all around the country passionate about various gender equality issues. I got to lead teachings about climate change and create a social change project about reproductive health. It was experiences like this one that made my less-than-normal high school experience special. High school gave me the opportunity to explore all my passions, and it allowed me to meet different groups of people and to practice different skills. It was this involvement that helped me at George Washington University when I started to join activities and create meaningful relationships with my friends and professors. It also inspired me to major in international affairs and take classes related to international human rights and gender equality.
Imagine you are about to graduate from high school. When you take your stroll down memory lane, you want to remember all the relationships, passions, and skills you learned in high school. So simply put, try something new because you never know what will be most interesting.
Sammie Reinstein is a rising third year at the George Washington University in Washington D.C. where she studies history and international affairs. She is excited to make her second appearance on the Springboard Blog, but this time as a Lewis Summer Intern at JUF in the Integrated Fundraising Department. In high school, she was involved in the Kol Koleinu Feminist Teen Fellowship through Moving Traditions and USY. In her free time, you can find Sammie dancing, listening to Taylor Swift, or re-reading Little Women.